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So while I’m on a healthy living kick, I figured it was a good time to share some of the things that have been inspiring said healthy living kick. I mean in addition to the fact that I can’t fit into a fair number of clothes that I could fit into mere months ago (!).
First, there’s been a lot of reports lately about research showing that sitting all day is going to kill you. Now, I have an office job and, depending on what phase I’m at for different projects1, I can find myself spending 7.5 hours sitting at my desk, day after day. And when you combine that with hours upon hours of sitting doing homework when I get home, it really is a miracle that I’m still alive. It sort of makes sense – we didn’t evolve to sit for prolonged periods of time – and I can tell you that my massage therapist can tell when I’ve had a week of lots of sitting as opposed to a week when I’ve been on the go. My muscles are full of nasty knots and various sorts of ugly tightness when I’ve been sitting – much worse than when I go in for massage due to my running- or hockey-related muscle tightness.
Given that ever doing exercise2 does not make up for the damaging effects of prolonged sitting on one’s health, I’ve been looking for simple ways to break up my sitting. I still do my teleconference yoga whenever I have a teleconference or webinar, but since I don’t have those with any regularity, I’ve tried to find other little ways to break up the sitting – apparently moving at least once per hour is what’s needed. Getting up to make tea, walking to the far bathroom instead of the closer one3, and even just stand-up-and-stretch breaks4. I do find, however, that I can get lost in my work sometimes and a few hours will go by where I don’t move anything except my typing fingers. Starting tomorrow, I’m setting an alarm so I’ll get up and stretch every hour!
One thing I’ve never been good about, even when I’m at my most active, is weight training. I’ll run, I’ll bike, I’ll swim, I’ll play hockey, but I’ve never really been into lifting weights5. But the thing is – lifting weights is good for you. Here’s a video with a prof from my favourite of my alma maters talking about it:
Simple Advice for Better Weight Training (sorry, this video won’t let me embed it, so you have to click the link)
The exercise room in my building has a few weights, so I’m thinking perhaps I should actually use them!
Just 23.5 Hours Per Day
But the thing that’s most inspired me lately is this video, which I saw awhile ago, then promptly forgot about, but then my sister just reminded me of it the other day, after Dr. Dan posted it on Facebook:
Can you limit your sitting and sleeping to a mere 23.5 hrs per day? When you put it like that, it really seems ridiculous to say “I don’t have time for exercise!”
And one bonus tip!
Being healthy isn’t just about physical activity, of course. Nutrition plays into as well. I’ve long been a fan of the book Intuitive Eating, which essentially brings the concept of mindfulness to eating. When I get really busy, though, I often forget and I scarf down my lunch at my computer – or sometimes even just while engaged in a good conversation – without even noticing. So I’m now trying out a tip I read recently: eating with my left hand. But doing this, which isn’t my usual pattern, it forces me to be more mindful of what I’m doing, rather than just eating automatically, just out of sheer habit. I just started this, so I’ll let you know how it goes!
- For example, if I’m in a data analysis or writing phase (e.g., writing plans, writing reports, writing emails, etc.) vs. if I’m in data collection phase (e.g., going off to various locations to do site visits, run focus groups, conduct interviews, have meetings). [↩]
- Such as going for a run/bike ride, going to the gym, playing hockey, etc. [↩]
- And given my continuous consumption of coffee and tea, my trips to the bathroom are frequent! [↩]
- Conveniently for me, my officemate is equally terrified of death-by-sitting, and will join me in said stretch breaks. [↩]
- Though I do have my pushups thing going on during homework times – so that’s something. [↩]
Today is Blog Action Day, a day where bloggers, not surprisingly, take action. They take action, not surprisingly, by blogging, but on this particular day they all blog about the same topic, thus calling attention to said topic. This year’s topic is “Food.”
From the Blog Action Day website:
This year Blog Action Day coincides with World Food Day, a time that focuses the world’s attention on food, something we all have in common.
There is so much to say about food.
We use food to mark times of celebration and sorrow. Lack of access to food causes devastating famines, whilst too much is causing a generation of new health problems. It can cost the world, or be too cheap for farmers to make a living.
The way we companies produce food and drinks can provide important jobs for communities or be completely destructive to habitats and local food producers. Food can give us energy to get through the day or contain ingredients that gives us allergic reactions.
Food can cooked by highly skilled chefs with inventive flair, or mass produced and delivered with speed at the side of road. It can be incredibly healthy or complete junk and bad for your health. It can taste delicious or be a locals only delicacy.
Food is important to our culture, identity and daily sustenance and the team at Blog Action invite you to join us to talk about food.
Now, I blog about food all the time – it comes with the territory when one is both a foodie and a nutritional scientist – so I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out what I should blog about today. And then I remembered that I’ve been meaning to blog about a book that I read that changed the whole way that I think about food and eating. It’s called “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch and you should totally read it. Here’s why.
First of all, this book is written by two registered dietitians – R.D. being the protected title for those who have gone through a rigorous post-secondary program and internship in nutrition, food, and eating1 – and these two R.D.s happen to have many years of experience working with people and through that experience have learned a lot about people’s relationships with food. Second, unlike “diet books” (think Atkins, the Zone, the blood type diet, etc.), this book doesn’t promise a quick fix. Because there is no quick fix when it comes to nutrition. It doesn’t promise you that you’ll lose 20 lbs in a week while eating copious amounts of every food you ever wanted to eat – because that’s just not how bodies work. So, right away this book is different than a lot of others on the market that purport to be about nutrition. OK, now that I’ve told you what the book is *not* about, let’s look at what it *is* about.
Key Take Home Messages From This Book
- Essentially, this book is about mindfulness brought to eating. When we are born, we eat when we are hungry and stop eating when we are full. Somewhere along the way, we develop messed up relationships with food and eating and lose our ability to respond to hunger and satiety cues. The simple act of paying attention to what we eat while we eat it goes a long way to preventing us from over eating.
- The idea of “dieting” is all about deprivation. But you can only deprive yourself for so long before you lose it and scarf down an entire cake! The worst part of this is that you don’t even get to enjoy that cake you are eating because you are shovelling it into your face so fast in response to having deprived yourself. And then you feel guilty about having “failed” – and not recognizing that “dieting” is just setting yourself up for failture.
- There’s no need to deny yourself the things you like to eat – but there’s also no need to eat copious amounts of them either. I mean, think about it: have you ever had a lovely meal or a scrumptious dessert in front of you and you wolfed it down so quickly that, afterwards, you realized that you barely even tasted it? Or finished off a giant bag of Doritoes in front of the television without even really being aware that you were eating them? If you actually make a conscious decision to eat, say, some chocolate mousse, wouldn’t it be better to be present in the moment, paying attention to the taste and the mouthfeel, savouring each spoonful, than to down the whole thing in 5 seconds, not really tasting it at all?
- Eating “everything on your plate” when you aren’t actually hungry is just as wasteful as throwing it out. A lot of people were raised to “eat everything on your plate” because to do otherwise means you are wasting food. But eating more food that your body needs, eating past the point where you are satisfied – you are still “wasting” it, but instead of it going into the garbage or the compost, it’s just adding unnecessary weight onto your body.
- Do you really need to lose that “last 10 lbs,” or are you already pretty awesome as you are? This is probably the hardest part of the book for many people. We tend to focus on what we see as our physical “imperfections” – things like, “my thighs are too fat,” rather than “my legs get me around, let me go for a walk, let me run, or play hockey” or whatever else it is that you do. I mean, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being fit, with striving to run fast or be stronger. But is dieting to get rid of those “last 10 lbs” really going to make you happy? Or would that effort be better expended on being happy with who you are?
As per usual, I have no affiliation with this book or these authors. I don’t get any money if you buy the book – in fact, I got it from the library myself. But I really do think everyone could benefit from reading it@
- As opposed to “nutritionist,” which pretty much anyone can call themselves. [↩]